Boston-Area Fireman Charged; Alleges Threat by Union President

FirefightersKevin Howard has been on sick leave for the last several months, but he may wind up on permanent leave. On August 11, a U.S. District Court in Lynn, Massachusetts, determined that there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Howard, a veteran firefighter and acting fire chief for the nearby community of Nahant, for multiple acts of embezzlement. The action was in response to a similar complaint filed earlier in the month by his union, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2718. In a separate action, Howard last month obtained a restraining order against a fellow firefighter whom he alleged had threatened to shoot him. 

Nahant, connected by causeway to Lynn, is a picturesque beach town of some 3,000 people. Nationally, the community may be best known as the location of the lighthouse scenes for the recent Martin Scorsese film, “Shutter Island.” The ongoing turmoil at IAFF Local 2718 at the very least could serve as raw material for an episode of the FX channel’s “Rescue Me.”

Kevin Howard was president of the union until he was appointed acting fire chief this past March 1. His tenure was brief. On April 29, he went on paid sick leave following allegations he embezzled union funds to pay for his drug habit. He’s been replaced by a permanent chief and hasn’t returned. Sometime in the middle of this year, Local President Joshua Mahoney discovered money missing from union accounts. After an internal probe, the union in August filed a complaint in federal court against Howard alleging he paid for personal expenses with a union credit card, made about $7,600 in unauthorized withdrawals with his union ATM card, and submitted union receipts to the Town of Nahant and pocketed the reimbursements.

But Mahoney apparently has issues of his own. Court papers indicate that he accosted Howard at the firehouse and threatened him with violence. On August 10, Mahoney was served with a restraining order on premises. Because Howard lives within 250 yards of the station, Mahoney had to leave work or he would be arrested for violating the order. “(Howard) said he was threatened,” said union attorney Neil Rossman. “He said Josh (Mahoney) said he was going to shoot him. We will contest the allegations.” The following morning, Rossman went to court and had the restraining order modified to allow Mahoney to continue working at the station. This firehouse might prove more dangerous than a burning building.